Appliance Repair and Spare-Part Sales
The Mending Shed was founded in 1971 as a small mom-and-pop repair shop fixing just about everything that was brought in, from furniture to home appliances. Over the years, they have increased their capacity and now offer repair service on dozens of products. In 2001, they opened an online store, which has gone on to become an integral part of their business. "We sell a wide variety of replacement parts to the public – we’re not just repairmen," says Mendingshed.com IT Manager Justin Bosshardt. "Our inventory includes parts for washers, dryers, dishwashers, hair dryers, curling irons, shavers, razors, power wheels, power tools, lawn equipment, and the list goes on. We have an international customer base."
For many years, Mendingshed.com used QuickBooks to run their online division, including their warehouse and shipping processes. Unfortunately, the software hadn’t been able to keep up with the company’s increasingly complex inventory needs. "We were constantly fighting overages and shortages on inventory, which made customers upset when we had to put their orders on back order," Bosshardt notes. "We would also have inventory on the shelves and not on our website because there was no way to keep track of it. We had more work than we could keep up with."
It was taking more than six hours per day to create purchase orders for all of their vendors. They had to pick each order individually, which took two hours per every 100 orders picked. Employees had to memorize where each item was stored in the warehouse. This led to long training periods (lasting up to three months) before employees became proficient in picking and processing orders. "Since we were picking each order individually, employees would be running from one end of the warehouse to the other to get the inventory to fill the order," Bosshardt adds. This was not an efficient way to run a warehouse. The lack of inventory tracking also made it extremely difficult to find misplaced items, leading to a significant amount of unrecoverable inventory.
Recognizing the limitations of Mendingshed.com’s inventory management system, Bosshardt took it upon himself to find a replacement that would provide the features they desperately needed. "I hunted around for software for two months before I found Fishbowl," he says. "After I found it, I used the 30-day free trial to test it in a non-production environment using real data." The results of his tests were more than he could have hoped for. Fishbowl is the most popular inventory management software for QuickBooks users because of its seamless integration with the accounting software. Because of this fact, Bosshardt could continue using QuickBooks® for the company’s accounting needs while adding many new inventory control features.
In addition, he found Fishbowl’s management and order fulfillment functions to be beneficial to the company’s operations. Mendingshed.com has been able to run leaner by making strategic cuts in inventory levels, none of which have had a negative impact on customer service. Indeed, some of these changes have allowed the company to vastly improve its customer service, as Bosshardt points out in one example: "We have been able to do a complete redesign of the website from the money that Fishbowl has saved us."
"Fishbowl has essentially improved every aspect of our operation in some way or another," Bosshardt asserts. With the help of Fishbowl’s auto reorder points and auto purchase orders by vendor, Mendingshed.com was able to reduce the time it takes to create purchase orders from six hours to about one hour per day. The warehouse location, inventory management, and location sort order features enabled them to reduce the amount of time they spent picking orders from two hours to about 15 minutes per 100 orders. "To train new employees I just had to teach them the Location Scheme we implemented with Fishbowl and within a few days the new employee was just as efficient as the seasoned employees," Bosshardt boasts. "We soon found that we had more employees than we had work for, so we re-tasked them to work on backburner projects, which has enabled us to improve and grow in areas we were unable to in the past."
They integrated Fishbowl with their website in order to update the website in real time. Customers could now see which products are in stock before placing an order. Plus, customer service has become easier thanks to Fishbowl’s RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) module and the fact that Fishbowl makes detailed customer information easily accessible in one place. "Fishbowl has allowed us to reduce overhead while maximizing our resources to increase our bottom line," Bosshardt declares. "We invested a significant amount of money into Fishbowl and it definitely paid for itself within the first year. We recently converted the rest of the company over to Fishbowl."